Qatar Airways' CEO is threatening to leave the Oneworld alliance due to an ongoing feud with American Airlines

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Qatar Airways' CEO is threatening to leave the Oneworld alliance due to an ongoing feud with American Airlines

akbar al baker

Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images for Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.

  • Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said in a meeting with journalists on October 18 that he was considering leaving the Oneworld alliance due to a "bad feeling" created by American Airlines.
  • Al Baker said he had given the Oneworld administration an ultimatum and will decide whether to stay in the alliance or leave it "soon," though he didn't specify what the ultimatum included or what time period "soon" referenced.
  • American Airlines and Oneworld did not immediately respond to Business Insider's requests for comment.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said in a meeting with journalists on October 18 that he was considering leaving the Oneworld alliance due to a "bad feeling" created by American Airlines. Both Qatar and American are members of the alliance, which gives travelers easier access to connecting flights and frequent-flier benefits they can use across participating airlines.

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"With all these issues that we face, what is then the point of being in Oneworld?" he said.

American Airlines and Oneworld did not immediately respond to Business Insider's requests for comment.

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American, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines (the US3) have accused Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad Airways (the ME3) of gaining an unfair advantage over them by receiving more than $50 billion in government subsidies in the past decade, which they say allows the ME3 to charge lower fares than would be possible without government assistance. The US3 also say the ME3's alleged subsidies violate the Open Skies agreement that sets the rules for air travel between the US and over 120 other nations, including the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, where the ME3 are based.

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Al Baker said during the meeting that the premise of the US3's argument is flawed since Qatar is state-owned. Therefore, he said, receiving financial assistance from Qatar's government wouldn't be a subsidy, but, rather, an investment from the airline's owner.

Al Baker said he had given the Oneworld administration an ultimatum and will decide whether to stay in the alliance or leave "soon," though he didn't specify what the ultimatum included or what time period "soon" referenced.

He also suggested Qatar Airways' investments in other airlines, like International Airlines Group, Latam Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Air Italy could soften the blow if he decided to leave Oneworld.

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In 2017, Qatar Airways abandoned plans to buy up to 10% of American after American CEO Doug Parker expressed dismay at the potential investment and after American announced it would end its code-share agreement with Qatar Airways and Etihad.

Qatar Airways owns a 20% stake in International Airlines Group, the parent company of fellow Oneworld members British Airways and Iberia. In addition, the Doha-based airline also owns 10% of Oneworld member LATAM.

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